It absolutely couldn't have been more beautiful today than it was. The leaves are changing and bursting with color. The cold air makes me want to drink hot coffee and eat apple spice donuts. And so that's what I did this morning.
Then my daughter and I went "sailing (garage sale-ing), digging through an assortment of oddities here and there. Our total take-home treasure? One beautiful full color House Plans book, a pfaltzgraf pie plate (reminding me that I will be baking pies with zeal and abandonment!) and a little package of colorful paper clips my daughter picked out. These were not earth shattering discoveries- just a little fun and discovery under the fall sun.
But as we drove home, we got talking about the last two garage sales we went to. They both were pretty high priced and we could see the owners valued their things highly- even over-valued them. That got us talking about how some garage sales we went to, we could see people didn't know what their things were worth, or didn't care. And other places, every little sock or dish was priced as though it was gold.
We talked about which side we should fall on- if we have to appraise our own worth. Should we fall on one side (because we never get it straight dab smack in the very middle on the first try)- the side of over valuing rather than under valuing who we are? My 13 year old daughter, so far, feels confident of her worth, and said it was better to err on the side of thinking we are worth so much- than to think we are worth nothing . I smiled at her in silent agreement.
It is a dangerous thought in many Christian circles to over value oneself. I know it is thought that this is akin to "pride going before the fall". I know the verse not to think of oneself more highly than we ought" but rather with sober judgment. With safe thinking.
Did you know that when Paul is talking about God not giving us a spirit of fear but one of power, love and "a sound mind" that this word in Greek refers to "safe thinking"?(2 Tim 1:7) It is one thing to be excessively self-indulgent, it is another thing to have sober judgment in valuing yourself, realizing the costly blood of Jesus that was shed for you.
Many fear indulging themselves in positive self-reflection. I can understand why. But as I look around in this world I see very few people who know their worth, who value and respect what God has created, and who know how to walk with their eyes upward, their shoulders squared, and their lungs eagerly taking in air.
I know we ought not to fall into arrogance or pride. But, really, are we accomplishing that- avoiding pride- when we put ourselves down and when we murmur our pleading prayers with self contempt?
I have a daughter about to go out into this world in the coming years. She is equipped in so many ways. She's pretty discerning (and that's partially because I have taught her to trust that instinct that says "something is NOT right" and to go with that- without needing proof that she is right.) She's pretty good with self-defense- and the boys that know her will tell you- don't mess with her! She learned life saving techniques (through a baby-sitting course) and manages her money with skill and intense evaluation.
But above all that, she has got to know her worth- if she's going to be "safe" in this world. She has got to value who she is- because the world is not hospitable to doubters and trembling, fearful souls. It's a jungle out there- and avoiding pride and arrogance, alone, will not keep you humble.
What helps us, I think, is getting back to the root meaning of the word "humble"- stay "low to the ground". But do not grovel. Stay low- because sometimes missiles soar overhead, and because sometimes we need to remember the soil our body will return to- even as our spirit soars heavenward.
Stay low to the ground because the smell of the earth reminds us of living things and that things grow best in good soil of kindness and grace. When you stay low to the ground, you're not quick to judge others- but you are quick to reach out and steady any soul that starts to tumble in a flood of self- hatred or despair.
When you walk humbly, you'll walk with your eyes heavenward and your shoulders squared. You'll breathe in this delicious fall air- and be glad to be alive.